Feb 2, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A general view of the NFL shield logo at the NFL Alumni press conference for Super Bowl week. The New York Giants will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI . Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Concussion Lawsuit Divides Current & Former Players


The NFL is facing a lawsuit over concussions suffered by former NFL players.  Currently over 1,500 former NFL players have joined the lawsuit.  Earlier today, ProFootballtalk.com reported that despite the current lawsuit, no current players have quit.  In other words, it won’t matter what happens with the lawsuit.  College players will still try out for NFL teams and hope the get drafted and current players will continue to hit, take a hit, and get concussed.

And of course get paid.

The list of names is too long obviously to print and I’m sure that a simple “Google” search would turn up more than enough to peak your curiosity.  Even in the aftermath of the Junior Seau suicide, it’s safe to say that every single one of those former players on that plaintiff list would play again if given the choice.  At the root of the lawsuit is the players claim that the NFL did nothing to curb the repetitive concussions sustained by players.  Of course it was a different time as well.

Under today’s NFL rules players who suffer a concussion can not return to the field in that game.  They may not return to games or practices until a medical physician has cleared them to return and that player shows NO signs of the concussion.  A second concussion depending on the severity could land that player out for the season.    Players are given concussion tests at the beginning of the season when they are not concussed.  That test is used as the baseline test to determine a players functionality in-season when and if they suffer a brain injury.  That in and of itself creates a problem.

Peyton Manning and other NFL players have openly admitted to performing below standard on the baseline test in an effort to continue playing should a real concussion happen during the season or a game.  The same can not be said of former players because the NFL didn’t have baseline testing for many years.  However, it’s safe to assume that if current players, complete with the knowledge of concussion issues are still willing to tank the baseline tests, than previous players likely would have done the same.

I can not sit here and support either side in this contention.  It is not clearly defined, at least to me, as last years lockout where I sided with the owners.  The reality is we do not have sufficient knowledge that the NFL had at their disposal reports regarding the affects of concussions and ignored them.  Nor do we have definitive proof to the contrary.  For now, we simply do not know enough outside of what one side says as opposed to the other.

I do wish to point out one thing though.  The current Saints bounty program.  I find it ironic that players are trying to injure or “knock-out” key opposing players when safety is supposed to be a major issue for them.  Last year during the lockout, I received an Email alerting me to an article written by a woman claiming to be the wife of Scott Fujita.  In that article, the woman outlined the fact that those of us not supporting the players were basically idiots.  She cited the loss of health care, the fact that she and many wives have to endure their husbands barely able to get out of bed in the mornings.

She continued on and on about player safety and how the NFL could care less.  Yet her own husband is now facing suspension over his involvement in doing exactly what she said the NFL was doing.

This concussion issue will not go away and as a medical professional I understand the long lasting affects of significant and repetitive brain trauma.  I also know that some of the more advanced methods of protecting players from brain injury are relatively new in the last decade and that in another ten years, advances in safety will make today’s equipment look medieval.  I also know that given the knowledge most of these players have today on the subject, they are still playing.

In light of the recent lawsuit and daily additions of former players adding their names to the list, there are still no players quitting the game today.  The sport of football has always been a dangerous game and the growing size and speed of players has made the aggressive nature of play that much more evident.  Of course with greater speed and aggressiveness comes injury and that will never stop.

Again, I’m not taking sides in this simply because I do not know what either side does.  The NFL may very well have hid their own research and forged ahead with reckless abandon towards their players safety.  Perhaps the reports and research were truly not conclusive.  And perhaps, if they were, given the same information then with the same equipment then, those players may or may not have chosen to continue playing.

The subject is up for debate and the more knowledge we all find moving forward will better help us make a determination on who is and/or was right, and who was wrong.  Regardless, the most important element of this lawsuit will not come from within the courts or any monetary judgement handed down by the same.  The best thing that will come of this already has.

Awareness.

Tags: NFL NFL Concussion Lawsuit NFLPA Saints Bounty Program Scott Fujita